The brutal sexual abuse stories that make their way to newspaper headlines from time to time cannot be condemned enough. The only long-term and effective way here is “sexuality” education in our schools. Unfortunately, this crucial issue gets sidelined in ever-repetitive discussions around “psychopaths”, “death penalty” and so on.
Call it Sexuality education, Life education or Puberty education. The problem is – in this internet era, the nature of information that’s being put out there is perverse and obstreperous. Blocking access to it is just not possible for government, parents, teachers or schools. All we can do is provide the correct information from correct sources. Your better develop conscience to realize that the choice is only between these two.
And this is the most important issue here – to be conscient. This isn’t sex education, it’s “sexuality” education. Sex is a physical activity. Sexuality has so many colors – psychological, emotional, social, financial, moral. Sexuality is an inseparable part of you during childhood, youth and senescence. Somebody might choose to stay away from sex but nobody has a choice when it comes to “sexuality”. There’s no way to avoid those physical and mental changes. There’s no alternative to sexuality education.
Schools and colleges should take this responsibility. Because something like “Papa, what does fuck-you mean?” tends to fluster parents completely. It’s a skill that can be easily acquired by teachers, not by parents. Sexuality education is such a vast area and encapsulates so many things like – love, mutual respect, gender equality, dowry, child marriage, female foeticide, sexual intercourse and misgivings around it, sexual health, sexual abuse, family planning etc.
Let’s accept it. This matter is still very much a taboo. Parents get scandalized when it’s brought up. Their first impression is that this person is going to give out graphical information about “things” (Little do they know that their children are busy watching porn-clips on their smartphones). And then all this can translate to anywhere between obscene language, passing vulgar comments.. all the way to cases of sexual violence. This is where we get it wrong. These incidences don’t happen because of sexuality eduction but due to lack of it. Every time we have done a workshop in this regard with teachers, they express regret that they did not have access to this information when they were students themselves.
People think there might be a “temptation” to use the “knowledge” once acquired (like the-Kunti-effect in Mahabharata). Actually speaking — curiosity and temptation is quite natural for the adolescent age. Misinformation is worst. It’s better to gain formal “knowledge” than “learning” something profane through blue films. This knowledge comes ensconced with a sense of responsibility and that’s exactly the intention of sexuality education. Puberty is not just about pimples, moustache/beard or menstruation. It involves evolution of moral values and taking responsibility of your decisions. Won’t a streamlined learning process make it easier?
Surveys, world over, show that sexual behavior only improves with education. To say that children will miuse this is preposterouns. It’s like proposing that languges should not be taught because they might develop tendencies to use foul words. On the contrary, mastery over language usually ensures that a similar effect is achieved without swearing! It’s important what and how you teach. Education is a double-edged sword. You can teach history in way that it spreads hatred. The solution is not to avoid education but structure the syllabus and process appropriately.
Tricky part is all this confronts itself in that all-important age when children should be focused on studies and career. Curiosity leads to things like watching porn, smoking to preserve “macho” image or sometimes, even prostitution. And then it translates to negativity, inferiority complex and ultimately all this affects studies. Sexuality education is the solution here. It’s important to have that force with you in this sensitive age – to hand-hold you during the walk on this slippery road.
A lot of parents ask – “What would the children think of us once they get to know all this?” Let me tell you – this fear is totally unfounded. Most of the times this awkwardness is mostly in the minds of parents.. honestly – children are just curious. I don’t think children feel odd if it is presented in a mature manner as a law of living beings. If children don’t hold parents responsible for the law of gravity, there is no reason they should hold them responsible for this either.
Another argument is: one can learn swimming once he/she is pushed in the water. We all know it’s not easy. it involves a lot of panic, panting and what not. And then there’s no guarantee of learning. There’s also a possibility of drowning. This is one way to learn, agreed. But then it’s time to choose whether to send your child for a swimming class or just push him/her in the well.
“How do animals learn?” people ask. Honestly, we cannot compare animals and humans in this regard. Animals’ behavior is totally nature-dependent wheras parameters like society, religion and culture play a crucial role in determining a person’s sexual behavior. It’s a battle between these factors and natural instincts. Shouldn’t you be bracing yourself appropriately for the battle?
Rape is just a tip of the iceberg when it comes to sexual violence. There’re so many more layers to this – sexual harrassment at workplace, gender bias, child abuse, marital rape etc. etc. Are we going to wake up only temporarily, after brouhaha about the next high-profile rape story in the media?
The shame is – even after World Health Organization(WHO), International Planned Parenthood and multiple education boards have constantly insisted on it, all-party legislators in Maharashtra assembly unanimously decided not to bring this subject in syllabus without much debate. Come on, we can surely do better! We need to make sure our childern get the right sexuality education from right sources. Let this be the issue on which our parliament is adjourned.
Disclaimer: This is a feeble attempt to do an almost-verbatim translation of the original @http://shantanuabhyankar.blogspot.in/2016/07/blog-post_19.html. The author is far from being an authority on this sensitive subject. The sole intention of this write-up is to make this piece available to a broader audience.